straw dogs by john gray

How should society be organised, if at all?

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Arising_uk
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by Arising_uk »

The Jesus Head wrote:So you say you have a degree in philosophy and John Gray not ,so you are smarter,wiser more erudite? ...
Nope, read a bit closer. I say that since I have such a thing I can comment upon the approach and style of his book and that I found the ending a cop-out with his previous words and that he offers no solutions to what he identifies. That he is in a long line of cassandras in philosophy and uses literary quotes to back-up his message leads me to think he is writing to effect something and so far I'm unsure what, but its obvious that its affected you.
He is a major world academic and you are an air bag from the back streets and a fraud, since the chances that someone like you has a degree in anything, is so remote, it is not even a wild bet.
Shame I can't make that bet with you, as you'd lose. Since you find these bits of paper so impressive I'd ask you which ones you have?
You are a grade A fantasist on the dole living in a bedsit.
:lol: Been there, done that, but am now a working-class man. I find it interesting that you use this insult but laud an academic who has never had a proper job and yet still appears to think he can comment upon this 'deluded' primate?
Don't expect me to engage with you further since I am not going to drop any
more change into your cap.
Its all been wooden nickels so far. But you are mixing your analogies as dole-boys don't beg.
p.s.
You've not answered the question that you think Mr Gray writes for commercial gain and, if so, is that not a little tawdry for such a towering intellect?
Last edited by Arising_uk on Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:32 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Arising_uk
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by Arising_uk »

The Jesus Head wrote:John Gray is found in every bookshop in the western world.
Where can your magazine be purchased ?
:lol: By this criteria Barbara Cartland and Chris Ryan are towers of intellect and pretty much all the philosophers are not.

You can subscribe at the Philosophy Now website http://philosophynow.org/, W.H. Smiths and affiliates sell it, as does Amazon, you can also get the kindle version from Amazon. Its the least you can do as it funds and supports this forum with pretty much zilch interference.
p.s.
Not that I think he needs my help but Rick Lewis has done this, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Lewis, and as such deserves the right to be lauded and not sniped at by those who have done nothing to promote Philosophy to the public.
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The Jesus Head
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by The Jesus Head »

RickLewis wrote:
Nikolai wrote:
RickLewis wrote:Well done on getting to the end. I flaked out at the end of chapter 2, I think.
Oh dear. Are you sure you're fit to edit this magazine?
:D No, I've never been sure about that! I only got the job because I knew the magazine's founder. More accurately, I was the founder. Also, nobody else wanted to do the job for no money!

As regards reading, I see it like this. I have a huge long list of great books that I would like to read and not nearly enough time to read them all. (For the last 20 years I've spent most of my reading moments assessing article submissions for the magazine). Therefore if I start reading a book and I get the impression after a chapter or so that it isn't much cop, then I simply stop reading it and start to read something else instead.

The danger of this is that occasionally I'm sure to miss out on some extraordinary reading experience, where a book turns out - despite its unpromising beginning - to be utterly brilliant. However, on the whole and given that the universe is finite, I think my picky approach is more likely to result in me reading good stuff than if I were to dutifully plod to the end of every book I started, even if the book in question was a drag.
I suspect that you have little economics background which is why you find Gray
somewhat less compelling than other philosophers.
arvind13
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by arvind13 »

Hello all,

My name is Arvind. this is my first post.


I am an admirer of John Gray's work, especially Straw Dogs. He makes a lot of relevant points, especially about how ideas of human progress and humanism are influenced by Christianity.

To those who like his work, I would recommend S.N. Balagangadhara's "The Heathen in his Blindness: Asia, the West and the dynamic of religion" (1994). He also addresses some of the ideas presented in Straw Dogs, but goes much much deeper with it. This book signals a paradigm shift that changes one's outlook drastically. It might even change your world view.

So overall, I agree with lot of the ideas presented in Straw Dogs, but balagangadhara's book (to steal a line from the matrix) shows you just "how deep the rabbit hole goes" :)
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Notvacka
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by Notvacka »

Given the present level of philosophical discussion on this bord, I think it's entirely appropriate for me to voice some unsubstantiated prejudice: economists are simply seldom great thinkers.

I haven't read Straw Dogs. Furthermore, I have no interest in reading it. However, from what I have read about it, I gather that I don't like it. :lol: 8)
arvind13
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by arvind13 »

Fair point. But not necessarily true always. And balagangadhara is not an economist. He's a philosopher and a social scientist. He has an interesting research program called comparative science of cultures in Ghent university Belgium cultuurewetenschap.be
Nikolai
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by Nikolai »

John Gray isn't an economist, he's a philosopher.

You should read the book, it's probably the most powerful work of 'popular' philosophy ever published. I can't think of anything else that manages to be aimed at the everyday reader and yet be utterly provocative. Like it or loathe it, I'm not sure that anyone could be unmoved by it - therefore read it.

Philosophy is too often confined to ivory towers. Straw Dogs is a thunderbolt from, but anyone's standards, one of the most influential British philosophers in recent history - and this is before he wrote the book.
arvind13
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by arvind13 »

Absolutely Nikolai more ppl should read it. Provocative book. You should also try reading heathen in his blindness. It represents a paradigm shift in social science, philosophy and cultural studies. The author has made it available for free in pDf form on the net. U should google it. "The heathen in his blindness"
Nikolai
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by Nikolai »

I read the Introduction on the pdf. I'm not sure I would find the book very interesting. My own view is that all the world religions are alike, in that they are different ways of expressing a truth which in itself is indescribable. I also consider all philosophy, science and art as attempts at the same thing. Anyone who has thought deeply about epistemology, the self, agency, time and space would notice how seemingly disparate intellectual paths converge. I therefore make no ultimate distinction between religion and any other human activity - I wouldn't therefore be particular interested in the thesis that not all cultures have religion.

I would be interested though in what you think are the links between this book and Straw Dogs.
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Notvacka
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by Notvacka »

Nikolai wrote:You should read the book...
Since it's you, Nikolai, who recommend it, I just might. :D
duszek
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by duszek »

Do straw dogs symbolize something ?
Do they symbolize simple minded ambulant philosophers ?

Would Mickey Mouse be a straw dog in this sense ?
According to Walter Benjamin (as interpreted by A. Baricco) Mickey showed to a broad public what happens when you leave home and expose yourself to danger.
arvind13
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by arvind13 »

Nikolai wrote:I read the Introduction on the pdf. I'm not sure I would find the book very interesting. My own view is that all the world religions are alike, in that they are different ways of expressing a truth which in itself is indescribable. I also consider all philosophy, science and art as attempts at the same thing. Anyone who has thought deeply about epistemology, the self, agency, time and space would notice how seemingly disparate intellectual paths converge. I therefore make no ultimate distinction between religion and any other human activity - I wouldn't therefore be particular interested in the thesis that not all cultures have religion.

I would be interested though in what you think are the links between this book and Straw Dogs.


John Gray talks about how many of the modern western concepts about human beings and society are derived from Christian ideas. Balagangadhara takes this theme and expands upon it much further. Here is what he says:


The kind of questions that Europe/West asks about human beings (especially in fields like psychology and philosophy) don't make sense to anyone who is not born within the framework of semitic religion (Christian, Muslim, or Jewish cultural background). All its claims about human beings, that human beings have rights, the notion of personhood, about the nature of state, the nature of law, etc are "secularized" versions of Christian theologies (by secularized I mean they are theological ideas dressed up in a neutral or scientific garb). They don't make sense to people like Chinese, Japanese, Indians who don't have these religions. In other words, the questions of Europe about human beings are not scientific questions, but theological questions.

John Gray himself addresses these issues in his books when he talks about secular humanists' notion of progress and how it comes from the Christian notion of providence. Pagans didn't perceive humans as progressing towards some goal. Another example: His straw dogs directly points to the fact that Greeks and Indians don't conceive of human beings as "persons".

Balagangadhara's book is revolutionary in the sense that it rewrites the history of European/Western culture. The story and history of Western culture is the story and history of Western Christianity. He does not merely make the claim that Christianity influenced the Western culture (everyone knows that, it's been discussed to death). The claim is that the history and story of the 'West' is the constant 'secularization' of Christian theological concepts. In this context, secularization refers to a process in which religious doctrines become increasingly more 'formalised'; in which they cast off their explicitly christian features and spreads in society in a 'neutral form'. The basic conceptual structure of these doctrines are retained, but dressed up in an alterable secular garb. The modern, secular institutions and ideas of Europe are still very much rooted in Biblical theology. This theology has influenced how the "West" has viewed, experienced, and described and continue to describe other cultures.

If his theory is right, it represents a paradigm shift in the social sciences and cultural studies. We will have to discard most if not all of our current theories about human beings, societies, and cultures
Nikolai
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Re: straw dogs by john gray

Post by Nikolai »

Thanks for that really interesting reply Arvind. I find what you are writing and the book really intersting so I've started a new thread here if you want to carry on

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=9902


Best wishes, Nikolai
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